Recipe: Leek, Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese Tart

Leek, mushroom and goat's cheese tart
Leek, mushroom and goat’s cheese tart

I love these kinds of meals. The kind where you use up what you’ve got in the fridge. So simple, so cheap but, most importantly, so delicious.

Leek, mushroom and goat's cheese tart
Goes great with peas and potatoes

Leek, mushroom and goat’s cheese tart (serves 4)

½ block puff pastry, rolled into a rectangle
½ a large leek, sliced
3 mushrooms, sliced
65g goat’s cheese
1 tbsp butter
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp marjoram
salt and pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the leeks for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry for another few minutes.
  4. Add the herbs and salt and pepper.
  5. Lightly score 1cm from the edge of the rolled pastry and add the leek mixture inside the score lines.
  6. Crumble the goat’s cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.


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Recipe: Root Vegetable Pie

Root Vegetable Pie

Root Vegetable Pie

The perfect pie for winter – robust and warming seasonal veg, topped with a puff pastry lid. This recipe is loosely based on one in Veggienomics by Nicola Graimes but I didn’t have any celeriac or carrots (I think *someone* forgot to buy carrots, because I’m sure I put them on the shopping list), didn’t use any cider and Nicola Graimes probably didn’t find her plain flour had gone mouldy and had to use sauce flour instead. The original recipe also did something complicated with the pastry; the recipe below is my simplified version.

Root Vegetable Pie (serves 4)

2 turnips, diced
1 parsnip, diced
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
10g butter
1 onion, chopped
150g mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 heaped tbsp chopped sage leaves
1 heaped tbsp plain flour or sauce flour
100ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100g Cheddar cheese, grated
200g puff pastry
Milk to brush over pastry
salt and pepper

  1. Put the turnips and parsnip in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and stir in the bouillon powder. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Strain the vegetables, reserving the water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the onions for 8 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms, garlic and herbs and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir continuously for another minute. Stir in the stock and cook for 2 minutes until thickened and reduced.
  3. Add the cooked root vegetables, 175ml of the reserved water and the mustard and stir until combined. Season the filling with salt and pepper. Transfer the root vegetable mixture to a pie dish, stir in the cheese and leave to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/180 fan/Gas 6. Roll out the pastry until large enough to cover the dish. Lay the pastry on top of the vegetable mixture and press down the edges. Prick the top of the pastry with a fork and brush the top with a little milk. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
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Recipe: Bread Machine Pizza Dough


The Complete Bread Machine Cookbook had been in my Amazon Wishlist for a few years but I never got around to buying it, probably because I don’t use my other bread machine cookbooks that much and didn’t see the point in buying another one just to not use that one much either. But when I saw it in a local charity shop a couple of weeks ago for just £1, I thought I might as well buy it.


I’m really glad I bought it, as it includes a recipe for the best pizza dough I’ve made in a bread machine.

According to the blurb at the front of the dough chapter, it says it may be necessary to leave the dough in the bucket to carry on rising, even after the programme has finished, until it reaches almost to the top and/or doubles in size. As I’d halved the original recipe (if you don’t want to halve it and haven’t got a lot of people to feed, you can freeze the other half of the dough), I didn’t know how much further it would rise, but I left it in the bucket for another twenty minutes or so after the programme has finished and I think it rose a bit more.

You’ll see in the instructions below (no. 6) that it says to roll the dough out and put in a tin, then spread with tomato puree or passata, then covering with oiled paper and putting in the fridge. I didn’t bother with this bit but just – after kneading the dough – covered it with some oiled baking paper and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then I rolled it out and covered it with tomato sauce (make your own with a tin of chopped tomatoes and herbs) and my favourite toppings of olives, mushrooms, red pepper, mozzarella, Cheddar and chilli flakes.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough (makes enough for 2 large pizzas)
(taken from The Complete Bread Machine Cookbook)

275ml water
2 tbsp olive oil
450g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp caster sugar
7g sachet instant or fast-acting yeast

  1. Pour the water into the breadmaker bucket, then add the oil and half the flour.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt and sugar.
  3. Cover with the remaining flour and mound the yeast into the centre.
  4. Fit the bucket into the breadmaker and set to the dough programme.
  5. When ready, remove the dough from the bucket and quickly knead on a floured surface.
  6. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a round large enough to fit two 25-30 cm/10-12 in well-greased pizza tins, gently pulling and stretching the dough to fit. Pinch up the edges all round to make a lip, then spread with the tomato puree or passata.
  7. Cover with oiled paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  8. Cover with your favourite toppings and bake for 20-25 minutes at 220C/gas mark 7 until the pizzas are well risen and the cheese is bubbling.

What are your favourite pizza toppings?

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Hot and Sour Mushroom and Tofu Soup


I decided to have a bit of a change and not make a soup that simply consisted of ‘throw some veg in a pan with some stock and boil it for a bit’ but to follow a recipe instead and make something a tad more interesting.

This hot and sour mushroom and tofu soup is adapted from the ‘Shroomy Hot & Sour Soup’ in the Isa Does It cookbook. My version, although hot and sour, isn’t as mushroomy as Isa’s as her original recipe has dried wood ear mushrooms and I don’t think Tesco stock them and I’m not a fan of dried mushrooms anyway. She also includes bamboo shoots but … bleurgh …

The tofu soaks up the flavours beautifully, while the sriracha adds a wonderful spicy kick.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients – they’re mostly flavourings and the preparation is minimal. I made this from start to finish in about 20 minutes.

Hot and Sour Mushroom and Tofu Soup (serves 2)

1 tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cups vegetable stock
1/8 cup rice vinegar
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sriracha
1 tsp sugar
2.5 oz cabbage, thinly sliced
7 oz tofu, diced
1/4 cup water
1 tsbp cornflour
2.5 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup spring onions

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the stock, vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha, sugar and cabbage. Bring to the boil, then lower to a simmer, add the tofu and cook for about 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, stir together the cornflour and water until dissolved. Mix into the soup, along with the mushrooms and spring onions and cook for another 5 minutes.
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Spiced Baked Eggs


I always think food looks posh in ramekins. I also always think, because it looks posh, that means it’s going to be fiddly and difficult to make. These spiced baked eggs weren’t fiddly and difficult to make at all, and they tasted as good as they looked. The only bit I messed up was leaving them in the oven for too long which meant the yolk set – it would have been nicer runny.

Quick and easy and definitely a dish I’ll be making again. The original version used Swiss chard, but there was none in Tesco, so I used spinach instead.


Spiced Baked Eggs (serves 2)
(recipe adapted from Veggienomics)

15g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp olive oil
125g field mushrooms, finely chopped
2 large handfuls of spinach, chopped
2 eggs
65ml/2fl oz double cream
1/2 tbsp mild curry powder
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas 5 and lightly butter two deep ramekin dishes. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and fry for 4 minutes until any liquid has evaporated. Add the spinach and cook for another 3-4 minutes until wilted.
  2. Divide the mushroom mixture into the prepared ramekins, then crack an egg into each one. Mix together the cream and curry powder, season with salt and pepper and spoon over the eggs so they are completely covered.
  3. Put the ramekins in a deep baking dish and pour in enough just-boiled water to come three-quarters of the way up the sides. Carefully transfer the dish to the oven and cook for 16-18 minutes until the whites of the eggs are just set but the yolks remain runny.
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Secret Sausages – Vegetables In Disguise


A healthy sausage? The last time I heard such an oxymoron was a couple of weeks ago when a friend mentioned ‘fun’ and ‘camping’ in the same sentence.

Still, Secret Sausages have 90% less fat, 50% fewer calories and 35% less salt than normal sausages. And if you eat three of them, you’ve got one of your five-a-day too.

Unlike most vegetarian sausages, these aren’t the ‘meaty’ type. These are made with fresh vegetables packed inside a vegetarian casing made from seaweed and rice and, like any other sausage, can be grilled, fried, oven-baked or barbecued.


Secret Sausages sent me a couple of packs to try and the other night I cooked up the rosemary and garlic variety which are made from garlic, green beans, mixed peppers, carrots and rosemary. Because they’re not the meaty type, they were quite soft and although I couldn’t taste any garlic, there was a pleasant hint of rosemary.

Not wanting to be too healthy, I served them with chips, baked beans, fried egg and fried mushrooms.



Secret Sausages are Vegetarian Society approved, gluten-free and available in six flavours: Lincolnshire, Chilli and Coriander, Rosemary and Garlic, Cumberland, Honey Bee, Cheese and Spring Onion


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Lentil and mushroom soup


Since recently discovering cheese-topped baps in Tesco, they’d become my lunch, filled with Violife vegan cheese slices, vegan mayo and salad (yes, I know there’s not really much point putting vegan cheese and vegan mayo into dairy cheese-topped baps but I’ve still got loads of Violife cheese slices to use up and I prefer vegan mayo to the eggy stuff).

But after eating homemade muffins and sultana loaf and having pizza and galic bread over the weekend, I was a bit breaded out. So, today I went back to making soup (I should have been meeting uni friends for pancakes but the screenwriting tutorial timetable scuppered that plan).

Today’s soup was lentil and mushroom, taken from Rose Elliot’s The Bean Book.

I’m going to post the recipe as it appears in the book (well, sort of) but it was way too thick to blend at the end, so I added about 300ml more stock. This soup is thick, tasty, salty and earthy.

Lentil and mushroom soup (serves 4 not very hungry people)
(from The Bean Book, by Rose Elliot)

125g green lentils
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
25g butter
125g mushrooms, chopped
900ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 4-5 minutes, then add the lentils and stock.
  3. Simmer gently, covered, for about 1 hour until the lentils are tender.
  4. Blend in a food processor or blender and season with salt and pepper.
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Vegetarian Pad Thai


This was probably nothing like an authentic Pad Thai. In fact, I know it wasn’t, because I’ve eaten Pad Thai dozens of times in Thai restaurants. But it had eggs and peanut and noodles in it, so as far as I’m concerned it was a Pad Thai. Feel free to let me know what puts the ‘Pad’ into a Pad Thai.

I thought it was going to be a disaster as it ended up looking more like a creamy broccoli sauce for pasta – despite it not actually containing any broccoli – than an eggy thing for noodles, but it was a success. And, as The Meat Eater said, it had a base of mushrooms and kale, so there wasn’t much to go wrong really.

Vegetarian Pad Thai (serves 2)

1tbsp vegetable oil
50g kale, chopped
2 large mushrooms, chopped
Large handful of beansprouts
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
50g dry roasted peanuts, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok.
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry until almost cooked.
  3. Add the kale and fry for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the beansprouts.
  5. Add the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and lime juice.
  6. Add the eggs and stir everything until the eggs are cooked.
  7. Serve on top of egg noodles (or those other noodles that usually go with Pad Thai) and garnish with the dry roasted peanuts and spring onions.
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Vegan Monday: vegan haggis stuffed mushrooms


Today’s Vegan Monday went a lot better than last week’s did. This time, I’d been to Tesco at the weekend, so I was prepared. No more ‘accidentally’ drinking non-vegan hot chocolate; Tesco had in some Sweet Freedom Choc Shot Liquid Chocolate that I’d lusted over at VegFest the other week (it wasn’t available to buy there at the time, it was only available to win and I only managed to win a bottle of juice and a bottle of cardamom flavoured tomato sauce).

I had fruit for breakfast and I’d also been to the farm shop at the weekend to buy a leek to make leek and potato soup for lunch. Snacks weren’t a problem either, as I made some chilli peanut butter granola bars.

For dinner, I made a vegan haggis stuffed mushroom, topped with spring onions and tomato. Usually I have side vegetables and potatoes with butter or salad cream, but tonight my condiment of choice was jalapeno and chilli relish – it worked well.

Vegan haggis stuffed mushrooms (serves 2)

1 packet Macsween Microwaveable Vegetarian Haggis
2 large field mushrooms
1 spring onion, sliced
2 small tomatoes, sliced
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

  1. Brush the mushrooms with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Bake – covered – at 180C for about 15 minutes.
  3. Stuff the mushrooms with the vegetarian haggis and top with the spring onions and tomatoes.
  4. Return to the oven – uncovered – for another 15 minutes.

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Vegan Mondays: Aubergine stuffed with mushroom and chilli


I woke up yesterday morning and decided that, from now on, Mondays would be vegan days. First things first though, and I went downstairs to check if my hot chocolate was vegan. It wasn’t, dammit! But, aha! I had a tub of cocoa in the cupboard, which is vegan. Okay, so it’s two years out of date, but never mind.

Lunch wasn’t a problem. I’d got up so late, I didn’t have any. I felt a bit peckish in the afternoon though so decided to have some cup-a-soup. Then I realised cream of asparagus cup-a-soup probably wasn’t vegan (the ‘cream’ bit gave me a hint), and it wasn’t, but I had a packet of Ainsley Harriott’s Hot & Sour cup-a-soup, which was (as far as I could tell – I’m not an expert at reading labels for non-vegan ingredients). Yay, good old Ainsley.

Dinner was easy, all I had to do was make something and leave out the ‘cover it in cheese’ bit. I had an aubergine and some mushrooms in the fridge, so mushroom-stuffed aubergine it was. The Meat-Eater says veganism is ‘unnecessary’, so he covered his in salad cream and Flora and said it was ‘okay-ish’ (if he hadn’t read on Facebook I was having a vegan day, he’d have said it was nice).

Aubergine stuffed with mushroom and chilli, topped with herby breadcrumbs (serves 2)

1 aubergine, sliced lengthways
2-4 mushrooms, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 slice of bread, crusts removed
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

  1. Score a criss-cross pattern in the aubergine and brush with oil. Bake in the oven at 190C for about 20-30 minutes, until tender. Scoop out the insides and chop.
  2. Whizz up the bread to make breadcrumbs and add the thyme.
  3. Fry the mushrooms in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the tomato and chopped aubergine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pile the aubergine/chilli/mushroom/tomato mixture on the aubergine skins.
  8. Top with the herby breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden.
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